Too often, strategy remains in the clouds and never touches the people on the ground. I’m not saying our church strategies are holistically ineffective, but that without proper intentionality and resolve, the impact may never reach the people we are trying to serve. This is the ministry trap that all church leaders must resist; we become so corporate that we lose sight of people in the crowds. If we aren’t careful, I would contend that this is exactly where many church strategies can lead. Our strategies must, at some point, leave the clouds and touch the people on the ground. And it is this mentality that brings us to the statement that will drive the rest of this blog.
For churches to succeed in developing a disciple-making culture, our methods must be so reproducible and scalable that they translate into disciple-making families. Anything less is missing the mark.
Most church leaders won’t disagree with this statement, yet we often don’t know what to do. It is not uncommon for me to meet with ministry leaders as they attempt to unpack how they can get parents in the game. Here is the victory. Discipleship is designed for the home. The first words that God ever said to man were, “Be fruitful and multiply.” The garden wasn’t meant to be an Adam and Eve. Instead, they were meant to raise up tiny disciples and multiply. However, the fall created a roadblock. As Dallas Willard said, “We live in either the default or the design.” The default is the current of this world constantly pulling at us, causing drift in our lives. The design is who we were created to be garden living. Which raises the question: How do we get our families back to the garden? How can we fight against the current and lead our families toward their original design?
As I have wrestled through this question and experimented on my children (sorry, not sorry), one thing has become increasingly clear. Discipleship strategies (with age-appropriate modification) translate directly into the home. The issue is that many young parents don’t have access and/or lack the equipping necessary to embrace their God-given roles as the primary disciplers of their kids. This is where our church strategy can meet the people on the ground and where generational transformation can occur.
In the Relational Discipleship Network, we attempt to help people unpack specific strategies. My hope is to help as discipleship infiltrates the family dynamic. Think about what Jesus modeled and how clearly his methods translate into the home. Since Jesus is the greatest disciple maker ever, our king and model, wouldn’t His methods work wherever we go? The context may change, but many of the strategies are the same.
One of the key strategies I employ in my personal walk and in discipling relationships is having a daily quiet time (QT) with Jesus. I use and teach people I disciple the SOAP method. Here’s the problem. My daughter is five and is just learning how to read and write. I can’t teach her to have a QT in the same way that I would an adult. I needed a new way to engage in an old strategy to meet my child on the ground.
Here’s what it looks like for us…
Lilla (my daughter) and I wake up extra early every Friday. On the way to school, we stop at a coffee shop where I get my caffeine on, and she devours a coffee cake. We sit at the table she chooses, and I pull out her kid’s Bible. We pray together, and then I’ll read the next chapter aloud, taking time to talk through it. Next, she’ll pull out her journal and draw a picture representing what we read. After she has completed the world’s newest Jackson Pollock, I’ll ask her what God is saying to her. Here are some of the phrases we’ve felt like the Lord was teaching her:
- God loves big.
- Jesus provides.
- Friends don’t stop being friends.
- I should obey God.
Are they simple? Yes. She’s five. It’s not seminary. The point isn’t that we are making these huge theological statements. My daughter is beginning to understand that she was made for a personal relationship with her creator. I’ll help her spell the phrase in her journal, and then we will send a picture of it to her mama and laugh as mom tries to guess which chapter we read. We take the drive to school as a chance to talk about how we can apply what we’ve learned. We both love our Fridays.
This is just one example of how we can take our discipleship strategies and implement them in our families. It’s going to take work. Traveling against the current is never easy, but it is good. We need to implement our discipleship in our homes and equip the people we are discipling to do the same. A disciple-making culture was always meant to lead to disciple-making families.
Director of Next Gen Ministries